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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: paleface ()
Date: January 29, 2011 05:58AM

Dear rrmoderator:

I find the discussions about the doctrine and beliefs of the Living Word Fellowship quite informative. They help answer the
questions many ex-members ask themselves, like "Why the heck did I get involved with this group? What did we really
believe and why did I fall for it?" It might seem like nit-picking about theology, but for many of us - it is helpful therapy
and part of the healing process.

Now, to address your questions. Let me take a stab at it:

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader:

points 1 and 2: Both the current leadership and the original founder were quite authoritarian in nature. It is their way, or the highway.
Many of us were removed from the fellowship when we questioned some of the practices being conducted. The current leadership
claims they are accountable to a few certain pastors that are their "designated relationships". But in reality, these other
pastors are so loyal that they would never have the guts to say "no" to them or attempt to correct them. Those that have,
were removed from their positions in the fellowship. They only play lip-service to "accountability".

3. While most of the accounting books are open to the congregants, salary information is typically not.

4. In the past, the LW has used the fear of the end-time as a way to hold members to the group. Thankfully this
practice has tapered off quite a bit. There is also a fear cast that a member that leaves the group will be
out from under the "covering of divine order" and thus open to assault from Satan, or other catastrophes - evil
in nature, or possibly even the dealings of God. This fear keeps some in close.

5. People that exit the fellowship are often labeled as "blow outs". It is said that they couldn't cut it, or
were deceived by Satan. If a person leaves, it is often said that that person chose a path of lower calling.

6. If you read the posts on FactNet you will hear similar stories. Maybe not outright physical abuse, but
certainly spiritual abuse. Those in leadership roles used their power at times, in an improper manner.
There are multiple accounts of this, some of them recent.

7. There are some news stories about this group, especially when the group was bigger. But the LW has been
doing a lot to bring positive stories to the media as well. Point 7 is not a strong point.

8. The nature of the teaching encourage people to "press-in" to being perfect. Because of this, there is little
tolerance for contentment. Members are not to be passive or satisfied with the status-quo. Because of this,
most members carry a sense of "not measuring up" or of not being good enough. This make them dependent on the leadership
and the Apostolic word to give them their sense of security and the next hint for the next stop in moving closer
to perfection. This practice, more than anything else at the LW, is probably the most destructive and damaging
to a person sense of self-worth and individuality. It is emotionally and mentally unhealthy.

9. It's their way or the highway. If you don't believe this, just try dissenting with them.

10. Members of the LW are encouraged to regard the "Apostolic Word" as equal to the bible and to regard the
sermons as the word of God. The is true for both the current sermons and the old books and "This Weeks".
Young adults often are encouraged to only listen to the current word and not to read a Bible, as only the
current word is capable of opening up the Bible to them. They are taught that without the Apostolic Word
to guide them, reading the Bible is not fruitful.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader:

1. There are some LW congregants that are obsessed with serving the leadership - at all costs to their personal lives.
Some become bankrupt from doing this, but are not discouraged from doing it by the leadership.

2. It is often taught that if you learned to think like the leader (MH) you would have her thinking, and that
her thinking was God's thinking. She was the "Lamp of Israel" and was the incarnation of Christ on the earth.
In backroom meetings, it is assumed that the leader's word is the word of God. Many believe that the founding
father was "Christ" reincarnated for this age. He was thought to be the first of Christ returning in many
members. A subtle point, but one that gives the leadership excessive power over others.

3. If the leadership is questioned, it is said that the person doing the questioning is under the influence
of darkness and has a "critical spirit". The suggestion is that this person is flawed in doing this.

4. This point was really obvious in the 70's. Probably not so much currently.

5. The leadership or your "designated relationship" is the person you are to run everything by. You are
discourage from making your own decisions. If you do, you are labeled an "independent" spirit, which in
this group has negative connotations. Many ex-members, upon leaving the fellowship have an adjustment
period where they have to learn to make their own decisions and trust their own intelligence for personal
matters. Intelligence was often discouraged. Advanced degrees from colleges are deemed as a negative
thing by many in the LW leadership.

6. There is always something going on. There's always some new campaign or "push" for something. Congregants
have little time for their own pursuits. Hobbies are not encouraged, and in the past, considered bad.
Teenagers often sacrifice school work for being at the church, working on church projects.

7. This is not a point with the LW Fellowship. Plenty of humor there.

8. When the original founder was alive, this isolation from the family was in place. Young adults who lived in
communal homes were encouraged to break contact with their families and old friends. This is not as strong, now,
however, if a congregant has a family member that disagrees with the doctrine of the LW, the congregant is encouraged
to not communicate with this member, so they will not be "contaminated" by this family member's "deception".

9. Actions by leaders are often justified as being "led by the Lord". Even when it is removing funds from someone,
having an affair or encouraging a couple to divorce.

10. see point 3. above. Those that leave are often regarded as falling away, or being led by Satan. They had
a saying: "If you are not with us, you are against us".....meaning you were with satan.


I know a lot of this material has been re-hashed before. Maybe it's good to have it in one place. For those of
you still in the fellowship that are reading this. I encourage you to do your own research. Find out why
the majority of opinion out there is that the LWF is a cult. As someone once said, "If it walks like a duck
and it quacks like a duck....just just might be a duck."

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: tryingtohelp ()
Date: January 30, 2011 05:11AM

I really appreciated this whole message. Thank you for taking the time to write all of that. How long were you there and when did you leave? Are you from the San Diego area? I could probably go back and read to find out all of these things but don't have the time right now. Thanks.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: January 30, 2011 03:38PM

"2. It is often taught that if you learned to think like the leader (MH) you would have her thinking, and that
her thinking was God's thinking. She was the "Lamp of Israel" and was the incarnation of Christ on the earth.
In backroom meetings, it is assumed that the leader's word is the word of God. Many believe that the founding
father was "Christ" reincarnated for this age. He was thought to be the first of Christ returning in many
members. A subtle point, but one that gives the leadership excessive power over others."

Not all members believed JRS was Christ incarnate. I was with the LWF from 1970 - 1984. I never heard this preached openly, but I can't speak to what was said in the back room meetings. I attended only one "back room" meeting. It was held in a garage/office and I was told not to share anything I heard with my wife. We were told we could only discuss what was said with others who were present. This secrecy spilled over years later with the tape libraries. I was over the library in Phoenix and was instructed to be present in the same room whenever someone wanted to hear a tape. Supposedly this was to cut down on the confusion or misunderstanding that may occur if someone heard the word on their own.

Having "John's thinking" was surely taught. Members were encouraged to think about things the way John did. Scripture alert: "Philippians 2:4-6 (New International Version, ©2011) not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;"

The phrase, " What would John think." was common place. I guess it has now been passed to Gary and Marilyn. I was at a service in Sepulveda when Bill Maybee said for us to turn our minds over to them (the Apostolic Company I guess) and they will tell us what to think.

When things like this were said many of us refused to believe them and refused to follow them. I stayed in the Fellowship (@Phoenix) trying to shepherd people from what we were hearing on the tapes. It was a group within the group at that time and when we finally were told to leave the church split up. One group remained with "The Walk" and still met in the building on 9th Street while the others began meeting elsewhere. I no longer meet with the group that left. We met for quite a while going through many changes together until they once again gave themselves over to the leadership of one person. He told me what I did in the past doesn't count and I couldn't be an elder unless I came up under him. But, that's a discussion best left for another time.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: February 02, 2011 10:32PM

The suggestion I would make to anyone who has had involvement with TLWF is to go back and re-examine Jesus’ words more carefully. Most Christian groups tend to look through the lens of their doctrinal belief system at the words of Jesus, instead of the other way around. We think we have a unique insight that other groups do not possess. The legalist will take Jesus’ words and come up with don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t go to movies, and don’t play cards (or hang out with girls that do!). Though these things have the appearance of wisdom, they are not included in Jesus’ commands, nor do they produce life. However, loving and forgiving your enemy does produce life. It’s rigged though – you can’t do it without Him.
Paul warned Timothy of the coming apostasy and those who would be “deceiving and being deceived”. He pointed him to the Scriptures, which Timothy had known from infancy, for his protection. Next is the verse we are all familiar with: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” There are many “revelations” leading people away from the scriptures to other sources of “life”. Sincerity is not the guarantee of safety - the Scriptures are.
One of the greatest threats to Divine life flowing through the Body of Christ is settling for a second-hand Jesus. There are no grandchildren in the kingdom, only sons. Down through history there have been many men (and women) who have sought to draw people after themselves, taking the place of God with promises they never had the wherewithal to fulfill –e.g. “Give me your money and God will give you a shortcut way to have everything the world is greedy for” or ”Give your life to me and you will rule the world and live forever”. There is a little truth to get you to bite on a lie, but at some point you have to have the courage to look at the fruit as Jesus taught. Behind every spiritual abuse is someone or something we have allowed to come between ourselves and the Lord. Idolatry is not always a little statue. Hopefully, we will learn obedience through the things that we suffer.
God always disciplines us for our good out of love. Over time, we will see the benefit of His hand on our lives – even if it is not obvious at first. Jesus is the Healer, but sometimes it takes a little suffering to get our attention. Pain is God’s gift to show us something is wrong. Sometimes the warning signs of disobedience are mistaken for “the work of the cross” or “spiritual warfare” and we miss an opportunity to find healing. Running up a bunch of credit card debt is not Satan battling our finances. It’s an old nature craving to be satisfied now instead of being crucified daily. His purpose for us is to become overcomers, not victims. Don’t forget - it’s big God and little defeated Satan - and He even uses him for our good.
It is so important to our growth that we receive the rewards Jesus promised for obedience to his commands. He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. His teaching was opposite to human thought. Do you want to live? Lay down your life. Do you want to lead? Be a servant. Do you want financial security? Give your resources away and God will take care of your needs and you will have treasure in heaven. Do you want influence with your Heavenly Father? Do what you do in secret, where only He knows. When we do these things for another human, the result very often is only suffering, not blessing. When we do these things for our Heavenly Father, we are amazed at the indescribable reward of Himself.
The first command of “You shall have no other gods before Me” through the lens of a relationship means He loves us so much, He doesn’t want anything to block the one-on-one wonder of fellowship with Him. Transformation comes from exposure to Him alone, not through a human mediator. You don’t get suntanned by hanging out with people with tans – you have to get in the sun yourself. On the surface, human accountability appears reasonable, but a human cannot give another human a nature change, which is what is really needed – only God can. We have to individually decide if we will be intimidated by twisted truth into letting another human take the place of God - or listen to Jesus’ words and obey them. I would say again, at least we should have the courage to examine the fruit while we are making up our minds.
In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus turned upside down the human pattern of relating by a hierarchy. The world is full of false apostles wanting to play king of the mountain with others lives. So few want to disappear from the spotlight, like Jesus did, and be the servant of all. Perhaps we should give it a try and see if it works.
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Kingdom Proverb: The problem with human relationships is that unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: tryingtohelp ()
Date: February 03, 2011 02:05AM

Thank you, larry bobo. Your words are well spoken! How long ago were you part of LW?

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: paleface ()
Date: February 03, 2011 05:33AM

Excellent Larry. A lot to think about there. I especially loved your 2nd sentence.

Please Mr. Moderator - this discussion is helpful for us members and ex-memebers in understanding what is going on with the LW doctrine and how it has a hold over people.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: February 03, 2011 09:55PM

I was involved with TLWF from 1969-1999 - long enough to give it a fair shake and see what type of fruit it produced. I'm grateful for the time I spent there. God knows how to make everything work out for our good, if we keep pursuing after Him. As we keep our eyes fixed on Him, He will heal our wounds and bitterness and really give us something to worship about. I have to say, I had no idea He was this good or I would have dug in a little deeper a lot sooner.

JRS was really on to something in "To Be A Christian", which attracted many of us. The problem is substituting a human for God just breaks down the whole process. JRS started out saying, "not looking to the opinions of men". Being involved in leadership, I know there were many "words from God" that were the opinions of men - even though they were given with good intent. If it's really a word from God, it comes with the power to accomplish the task on many levels and you sit in amazement at the complexity of His involvement - no human could ever come up with this stuff!

As we walked the Walk, it ended up being a kind of a "bait and switch" where you just don't end up with the goods you gave your life for. Take heart though. God is alive and well and His words work 100% of the time. You just have to read them for yourself (the red letters are by far the best!) and then apply them to your life. It may even take less effort than we expended in TLWF - we just have to apply it to the right thing.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: paleface ()
Date: February 09, 2011 10:46PM

The feeling of "not measuring up" in the LW is strong, even today with the current word. It took me a bit of time to shake all of that off. With prayer and seeking Him, the Lord convinced me that He loved me even with my flaws and it was OK. All OK.

Do you remember the phrase "You're killing John" ? This was said to people who were not toe-ing the line correctly, in the late 70's and early 80's. The responsibility of God not moving John into resurrection life was laid upon the congregation. We were told (mostly by MH) that we weren't praying hard enough or long enough. We needed to fast more. We weren't doing all-night prayer meetings enough. Etc. etc. And when John finally died....guess who's fault it was for him passing away? You guessed it. Many of us carried a sense of guilt for John's death for many years afterwards. It didn't help with MH saying stuff like "I don't need you. I have to move fast to get John back.". We were again blamed, this time for not bringing John back. Guilt - all the way around. Gosh, I don't miss that!

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: February 11, 2011 11:52AM

I think you will find that the areas where the accuser of the brethren has had access have stemmed from "words from God" that were never words from God in the first place. As soon as we drift away from what Jesus said and start substituting new teaching in it's place, we open the door to all kinds of confusion. The temptation to pursue after being the latest and greatest is exactly opposite of the example Jesus gave us as a servant. As with the pursuit of riches, there never is enough human effort that will satisfy the void that God made in each of us, that only He can fill.

Jesus said,"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone one on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'

Do we have a hierarchy where we have more than one Master, or do we relate as brothers? Do we call anyone on earth "father"? Do we have other teachers besides the Christ? If we do, there are problems that come with our choices and we have to accept responsibilty for our actions. For the longest time I just didn't think it was fair for all the suffering, when I was being as sincere as I knew how. As it turned out, I was obeying the wrong things, listening to the wrong people. The answers have been in plain sight in the words of Jesus, if we choose to obey them. I was so used to living in a fantasy world were nothing worked that it is actually quite exciting to watch God move.

It would be good for those who have been touched by TLWF to know how many other leaders in the Christian world control their followers with "words from God". The words don't confirm each other and neither do the leaders submit to each other. They all want to be God's special person that everyone else must obey. In a sick, humorous way, they deserve each other. They stay isolated from each other in their personal kingdoms or there would certainly be conflict as they fought over who would get to be the super apostle with the greatest revelation. Unfortunatley, the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence if you are into playing king of the mountain. It's been going on since the beginning of religion. Why aren't people fighting over who gets to be the servant? After all, it is the greatest position in the Kingdom.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: February 24, 2011 11:39AM

Larry:
Mark 1: 43-45
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

What happens far too often is people think they know better than God. So they do the opposite of what the Lord commands. This guy was told what to do, but he did his own thing which threw a wrench into what Jesus had in mind. However, the disobedience of the former leper couldn't stop people from seeking out and finding Jesus.

Romans 12: 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12: 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12: 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Too many leaders/people are busy doing their "instead" and not what the Lord is telling them to do.

john

Words in bold type are my emphasis.

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